Every year in March, we send out a survey form with our Annual Newsletter to get member feedback and ideas. We compile every comment we receive by subject matter, then offer a response so everyone knows that their ideas were considered, whether or not they can be implemented at the time. Here they are!
Your comments: “I noticed many “new” aggressive dogs in the park lately—not sure how to teach owners to control dogs. Very crowded due to Covid!” ** “We have been daily park goers for the past 4 years and truly love the park. However, since the pandemic, we have noticed a dramatic increase in the number of dogs at the park. Also, there has been an increase of larger and more aggressive dogs at the park. Many people are not aware of the off-leash tag requirement. Could a large sign be posted on the entry gate? Could the tag permit be enforced especially on weekends?”
- On off leash permit enforcement: The Township has a number of open, unfilled paid positions as Parks Steward. Parks Stewards are not dedicated to single parks, but do permit monitoring and minor maintenance chores at all the parks. If you or anyone you know would like to take on this job, please apply! If you google Lower Merion Parks Steward that will bring you to the jobs website where the position is posted. Please note that Parks & Rec employees can request people to obtain permits and give out literature, but cannot issue citations—only the police can do that. We plan to discuss stepped-up police enforcement with the Township shortly.
- On aggression: Information about what to do if you experience or witness aggressive behavior (by dogs or people) is posted on our website under the Gettin’ Along tab. In addition, under “Etiquette” in the same tab, we have posted information on canny strategies to help reduce dog fights and other unpleasant incidents. We think these pieces are very helpful and would love it if everyone would read them!
Your comments: “Is there a way to permanently block the illegal parking that leads to the overcrowding?”** “Clarify where parking is allowed and where it is not.” ** ** “Is there any way to add parking? ** “Can you ask Gateway to allow parking when school is not in session? “**
- On blocking illegal parking and clarifying legal parking spots: Yes, illegal and dangerous parking on the grassy area at Mill Creek and Old Gulph Roads, and near the park entrance on Mill Creek Road is a problem. This Fall, the Township plans to add plantings and other landscaping that will make these areas less attractive as parking spots. In addition, they are adding “no parking” signs and have asked the police to step up parking enforcement efforts. We have also asked the Township to put up markers on the interior of the parking lot fences to help people identify parking spaces since painted parking lines aren’t an option on the gravel. This should help eliminate wasted space issues in our lot.
- On increasing our parking space: Even though all of us hate the frustration, we are not advocating for more parking spots. Because we believe our current problems with dog aggression and damage to park ecology largely result from over-usage of the space, adding spaces seems counter-productive. If you get to the park and find no legal parking space, please walk your dog elsewhere.
Your comments: “Maybe a trash can at the other end of the park.” ** “More ‘poop’ trash cans.” : “Consider placing a sign similar to that at Rolling Hill Park, stating that masks and six foot social distancing are appropriate.”
- On covid restrictions: We checked with the Township and they say that there are no masking requirements in place at this time for outdoor parks. Of course, that could change any time, and if it does we expect signage will be posted accordingly.
- On trash cans: With respect to the additional trash bin, we sympathize but are not currently recommending this. Given that we have three trash receptacles already, we feel that adding another detracts from our goal to preserve the natural atmosphere of the park as well as adding to the burden on the township maintenance crew. For now, please just carry the bag around to the receptacles nearer the park entrance. (It’s a long way for a busy park crew member to drag a heavy, stinky trash can on foot!)
Your comments: “Plant even more trees, shrubs, and perennials.” ** “The riparian area (between stream and split rail fence) is supposed to be off limits to people and dogs in order to protect against stream pollution–but trails from frequent foot traffic are appearing in it, especially right along the creek.”
Our response: YES to more plantings! Every year we walk the park with our naturalist consultant and add native plants intended to capture and filter pollutants, improve water quality, and add habitat for wildlife. As to degradation of the riparian area, we are very concerned about this. We cannot currently plant trees and shrubs to block the illegal trails because Township remediation plans to comply with State anti-pollution legislation are in process and might conflict with our planting plans. We are monitoring this situation closely.
Your comments: “Maybe stone or river rocks in the area where it gets very muddy.” ** “The loop in the back gets really muddy with rain/storm. Maybe a small path of wood chips/mulch?**
On river stones: We are advised that river stones piled on top of the muddy central area would quickly become buried in more dirt as leaves and other organic matter decompose on top of them, and they have limited ability to absorb water. Instead, we are planting native plants and trees with deep roots, which will actively absorb water, and also filter and clean the water before it enters Mill Creek.
On wood chips: We ran the idea past the Township. In their experience the wood chips are too light and will quickly wash away in our flood-prone park, so they don’t recommend this solution.
A number of people expressed interest in volunteer opportunities. We tried to respond individually to each of you, but if we goofed and missed you, don’t give up on us! All official work days will be announced by email, and if you are willing to work on your own, or have something specific in mind that you’d like to do, please do contact us.
Your comments: “The park is looking beautiful! Thanks for all the work you do.” ** *” “Thanks for the inclusive atmosphere!” ** “Thank you for all the work you do.” ** “Thanks for all you do – this is our dog’s favorite park!” ** “I am not at WMC very often – it’s a 20 minute drive – but enjoy it and appreciate all the maintenance and work put in.” ** ”Thanks for all you do!” ** “I am grateful for our wonderful leadership!”
Our response: Thanks so much for the positive feedback. It means a lot to all on our Steering Committee!